Opal fares freeze

Opal fares will freeze, but commuters will no longer receive free travel after eight weekly trips

Commuters in New South Wales (NSW) will no longer be entitled to free travel using their Opal card, following an announcement made by the State Government this week.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance has announced there’ll be no increase to set fares for Opal card customers this year, meaning these fares won’t have increased on trains and ferries since January 2015 or on buses and light rail since 2014.

Current Opal card fares and fare bands will remain the same, and there will be no changes to the Opal card daily, weekly or Sunday fare caps or the Gold Senior/Pensioner Opal card eligibility criteria – including the daily fare cap of $2.50

However, the State Government is adopting the recommendation to change the Opal weekly travel reward system.

Instead of free travel after 8 paid journeys, customers will receive a 50 per cent discount on fares after 8 paid journeys during a week.

"Around 70 per cent of customers are not reaching the reward, meaning a majority of customers aren’t receiving any benefit," Constance says.

"By offering half price fares, we’ll still provide an incentive to use public transport but the new reward strikes a balance to allow a more sustainable system."

The recent Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) report also made a recommendation to introduce a higher discount for people who travel on the train in the off-peak.

The NSW Government will keep the current off-peak discount of 30 per cent in place.

"While I acknowledge the merit in encouraging more people to travel outside of peak times, there wasn’t enough evidence to show an increase in the already generous off-peak discount would encourage more people to travel in off-peak."

Constance says while the IPART has recommended a raft of changes or increases to fares, structure and benefits, it is important price shocks aren’t too dramatic for commuters.

"I can confirm today the daily fare cap for our seniors and pensioners will be kept at $2.50," Constance says.

"We’re also keeping the Adult Opal card daily fare cap at $15and weekly fare cap at $60. That means people who travel long distances and reach the cap won’t be paying more for their commutes.

"Opal card customers will not see any increase or change to single fares or the fare bands that determine the fare for distance travelled. People who travel irregularly on their Opal card will pay the same as they do now or less if they change modes on their usual journey."

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